Carty expecting frosty Russian reception for Connacht clash
This may be the first time that any of the Connacht players have set foot in Russia but out-half Jack Carty is more than familiar with Saturday's opponents Enisei-STM having played against them several times in Galway.
The Siberian club, currently the reigning Russian champions, have made four visits to Galway to play Connacht Eagles and Carty knows they can take nothing for granted against a side making their European debut.
"I played against them three or four times already. The first time I played them I was 16 so I was quite young.
"Initially when we played they were just, I wouldn't say raw, but they were really big and physical. They carried hard and didn't really have the skills to move it.
"And then as the years progressed, their skills improved. They had the Kiwi ten for a couple of years who played with Ballynahinch. And since then their passing and skills have got really, really good. With the weather we are expecting this weekend, we are expecting them to move the ball, and it is a going to be a big challenge."
The 23-year-old arrived in Russia yesterday morning after an overnight charter flight from Shannon and he said the players were looking forward to the match.
A huge crowd is expected at the 22,500-capacity Central Stadium on Saturday afternoon for the historic clash between Pat Lam's men and Enisei-STM.
It will be the first European rugby game to be played in Russia and posters advertising the game can be seen throughout the city.
"We are looking forward to it, it is going to be a different experience. We have been training early morning this week, so we have a good prep for it. It is the first opportunity for any of us to go and experience this different culture.
"It is going to be a big challenge, against a big, physical team. We played them three or four times now already, and they have always been tight games so we are expecting it the same again this weekend," added Carty.
Temperatures of around minus six degrees Celcius greeted Connacht on arrival in Krasnoyarsk but winter sunshine and the absence of a wind meant that it was not a difficult adjustment.
The squad trained indoors in the afternoon at a basketball court where they did a light training session to offset the marathon 5,800km journey from Shannon.
Connacht have settled into their Hilton Gardens Hotel in the suburbs of Krasnoyarsk, a city of one million people, and will crank up their preparations with their first outdoor training session this afternoon.